|“Our citizenship is in heaven. And |
we eagerly await a Savior from
there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
I grew up in the decade immediately following the end of World War II. Our nation made so many sacrifices to respond with might and power to a two-front war and to come to the aid of our allies. Young people today simply do not have any concept of the enormous stress this War placed on almost every single person who was alive during this time period. These same young people would do well to spend an hour or two reading about this time in the life of our country and trying to imagine what it would have been like to be living during such an event.
My childhood was a time of great patriotism and also great fear. We were extraordinarily proud to be citizens of the United States of America. We were proud of those who had served and were still serving in our armed forces. We were proud of our flag. We were proud of our Pledge of Allegiance. We were proud of the fact that America was a great melting pot of people from many nations who had come here to start a new life, to retain the best memories of their homeland, but to first and foremost become Americans. The many becoming one was celebrated. Diversity was not shunned. Rather, it was accepted with reverence. But, what was revered even more was how these diverse people had all grasped hands and eagerly embraced a new identity.
The fear of my childhood came from concern that we would all die from a nuclear attack initiated by the Soviet Union. We had seen the result of the relatively small atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We knew that even greater bombs now existed, including the hydrogen bomb. We practiced in our classrooms how to seek shelter, never realizing that the meager shelter provided would hardly protect us from a nuclear assault.
When the Memorial Day and Fourth of July parades took place, we stood at attention as the military personnel marched by carrying the flag of our nation. We cheered the stern looks on the faces of these young men and women. We longed for the day when we could join their ranks.
We felt similar awe for those who served on the police force and fire department. We were proud, so very proud of what our nation, state, county, city or town represented. We were proud of our way of life. And, we were keenly aware of the sacrifices that had been made to secure and preserve that way of life.
So much has changed in my lifetime. When I stop to think about how profoundly everything has changed, it takes my breath away. But, in the midst of all the change, one thing remains constant. The Apostle Paul expressed that “constant” in a most elegant way when he wrote these words recorded in Philippians 3:20:
Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am still one who celebrates what our nation once was. And, I am one who laments with great sorrow what our nation has become over the course of my lifetime. But, at the same time, I am filled with hope in the reality that I am really a citizen of a far greater kingdom, the Kingdom of God.
The words written nearly 150 years ago by Edward Mote come to mind:
My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.
Let me urge us this day to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). And, let us draw strength from the reality that we are, indeed, citizens of the great Kingdom of God.